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Brief Profile of the Awardee


Dr Vidita Ashok Vaidya

  • 2015
  • Medical Sciences
  • 15/11/1970
  • Neuroscience
Award Citation:

Dr Vaidya has made outstanding contributions in identifying specific norepinephine and thyroid hormone receptors as targets for rapid-action antidepressants. She has also demonstrated the role of serotonin2A receptors and histone deacetylase4 in anxiety and depression.

Academic Qualifications:
SNODegreeSubjectCGP/MarksYearUniversityAdditional Particular
1BscLife-Science and BiochemistryDistinction 1991St Xaviers College, University of Mumbai 
2PhDNeuroscience 1998Yale University, CT, USA 
Thesis and Guide details:
Details of CSIR Fellowship/ Associateship held, if any or from other sources/ agencies.
Significant foreign assignments:
(a) Significant contributions to science and/ or technology development by the nominee based on the work done in India during most part of last 5 years:
Dr. Vaidya’s work has contributed to our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology and treatment of depression and anxiety. The nominee’s work capitalizes on two approaches - (A) a study of the key adaptive changes that arise from chronic antidepressant treatment, and (B) by examining the persistent neuronal alterations in animal models of depression and anxiety. (A) Antidepressant-induced adaptive plasticity: (Papers published as a senior corresponding author) 2010-2015: Husain et al.,(2015) Prog in Neuropsychopharm and Biol Psych 61:1-9 Kara et al., (2015) IJNP (epub ahead of print) Jhaveri et al., (2014) PLoS One 9(6):e98736. Kapoor et al. (2012) J Neuroendocrinol 24(9):1259-1271. Desouza et al., (2011) Endocrinology 152(5):1989-2000. Kapoor et al., (2011) Neurosci Lett. 487(2):199-203. Kapoor et al., (2010) FASEB J 24(12):4793-805. Yanpallewar et al., (2010) Journal of Neuroscience 30(3):1096 –1109. Prior to 2010: Rajendran et al., (2009) Neurosci Lett 453(3):190-194. Benekareddy et al., (2008) Synapse 62(8):590-600. Jha et al., (2008) Neurosci Lett. 441(2):210-214. Jha et al., (2006) Brain Res. 1075(1): 48-59. Banerjee et al., (2005) Eur J Neurosci. 22(7):1570-1580. Desouza et al., (2005) Mol Cell Neurosci. 29(3):414-426. Dias et al., (2003) Neuropharm (45): 553 –563. Kulkarni et al., (2002) Eur J Neurosci 16:1-6. Invited Reviews: Kapoor et al., (2015) J Neurochem (in press) Vaidya et al., (2007) CNS and Neurological disorders: Drug Targets 6(5):358-374. Vaidya et al., (2007) Expert Rev Neurother 7(7):853-864. Vaidya and Duman (2001) Brit Med Bull 57:61-79 Depression has been hypothesized to involve an inability to mount adaptive structural plasticity in key neuronal networks. Animal models of depression exhibit decreased new neuron production, hippocampal stem cell turnover and reduced trophic factor expression. In contrast, adult hippocampal neurogenesis, neural stem cell turnover and trophic factor expression are enhanced following chronic antidepressant treatments, and are required for specific behavioral effects. This raises the intriguing possibility that such adaptive changes may contribute to the treatment of depressive disorders. However, these adaptive changes arise only following chronic treatment and are slow-onset, which may contribute to the delay in the therapeutic action of antidepressants. Dr. Vaidya’s seminal contributions come through an understanding of the mechanisms that regulate hippocampal neurogenesis, demonstrating a key role for monoaminergic receptors (Jha et al., 2006; 2008; Yanpallewar et al., 2010, Jhaveri et al., 2014, Husain et al., 2015); thyroid hormone (Desouza et al., 2005; Kapoor et al., 2010; 2011; 2012; Desouza et al., 2011) and the developmental morphogen, Sonic hedgehog (Shh) (Banerjee et al., 2005; Rajendran et al., 2009). Dr. Vaidya’s group showed that by blocking the alpha2-adrenoceptor at the same time as giving a classical antidepressant, the neurogenic, neurotrophic and behavioral effects of chronic antidepressant treatment were observed within a week, rather than the 3 weeks normally required in animal models (Yanpallewar et al., 2010, Jhaveri et al., 2014, Husain et al., 2015). These findings are of substantial clinical interest and were featured as significant research highlights [Highlighted in the March 2010 issues of Nature Medicine (16: 3, 276); Nature Reviews Neuroscience (11: 3, 152); Nature Reviews Drug Discovery (9, 192-193)]. Dr. Vaidya’s group is a world leader in defining our understanding of how thyroid hormone regulates adult neural stem cells (Desouza et al., 2005).
(b) Impact of the contributions in the field concerned:
Dr. Vaidya’s work has identified important targets for putative rapid-action antidepressants and provided key insights into the mechanisms that underlie the establishment of vulnerability to anxiety and depressive disorders. Dr. Vaidya’s group was the first to demonstrate that norepinephrine regulates adult hippocampal neurogenesis (Kulkarni et al., 2002). The nominee’s lab then went on to show that paradoxically the alpha2-adrenoceptor decreases the proliferation of adult neural stem cells (Yanpallewar et al., 2010, Jhaveri et al., 2014, Husain et al., 2015). Concomitant treatment with an alpha2 adrenoceptor antagonist speeds up the neurogenic, neurotrophic and behavioral effects of classical antidepressant treatment in rodent models (Yanpallewar et al., 2010). This work has had a significant impact with several research highlights in high impact journals [Highlighted in the March 2010 issues of Nature Medicine (16: 3, 276); Nature Reviews Neuroscience (11: 3, 152); Nature Reviews Drug Discovery (9, 192-193)], Faculty of 1000 recommendations and press coverage on this discovery. These findings strongly implicate the alpha2 adrenoceptor as a key target for fast-acting antidepressant treatments. In this regard, Dr. Vaidya’s group has worked with both Pfizer Groton Discovery Centre and the former Wyeth Research labs to study the effects of novel antidepressants in development. Dr. Vaidya’s work has also had an impact in understanding the effects on plasticity evoked by neurohormones like thyroid hormone. Her group provided the first evidence that thyroid hormone regulates adult hippocampal neurogenesis (Desouza et al., 2005). Dr. Vaidya’s work showed that unliganded TRα1 is a key mediator of the deleterious effects of hypothyroidism on adult hippocampal neurogenesis (Kapoor et al., 2010, 2011). Strikingly, her group also showed that faster-acting antidepressant treatments (Banerjee et al. 2005), and adjunct treatments with thyroid hormone (Desouza at el., 2011, Kapoor et al., 2012) tap into developmental signaling pathways such as Sonic Hedgehog (Shh), thus hastening effects on structural plasticity. This work has identified key leads for future drug development of rapid-action antidepressants, and has opened up the possibility that fastacting antidepressants may exert their effects on adaptive plasticity by reactivating developmental pathways within the adult brain. Dr. Vaidya’s group has identified persistent alterations evoked by adverse early experience in specific emotional neurocircuits, and their role in setting up individual differences in vulnerability to psychopathology. Importantly, the nominee’s group has shown that early stress leads to long-lasting increases in 5-HT2A-mediated responses (Benekareddy et al., 2010), and that blockade of the 5-HT2A receptor prevents the development of anxiety and aberrant stress responses (Benekareddy et al., 2011, Sarkar et al., 2013). This work received Faculty of 1000 recommendations and was featured as a research highlight (McOmish and Gingrich JA, 2011). Most recently, the nominee’s work has shown that a history of early life stress evokes transient adaptive changes in epigenetic regulation of trophic factor expression, hippocampal neurogenesis and cognitive performance, which tip into reduced trophic factor expression and a steep neurogenic and cognitive decline as animals age. This work has highlighted both the adaptive and maladaptive consequences of early stress, and indicated that antidepressant treatments and 5-HT2A receptor blockade can rescue the longlasting maladaptive effects of early stress experience (Suri et al., 2013, 2014).
Places where work of last 5 years has been referred/ cited in Books, Reviews:
(i). Paper Cited
(ii). Book Cited
Names of the industries in which the technology (ies) has (have) been used :
The achievements already been recognised by Awards by any learned body:
The Awardee a fellow of the Indian National Science Academy/Indian Academy of Sciences/National Academy of Sciences/Others:
The Awardee delivered invited lecture(s) in India/abroad and/or chaired any scientific Internatiional Conference Symposium:
List of Awardee's 10 most significant publications.
List of Awardee's 5 most significant publications during the last 5 years
List of Awardee's 5 most significant publications from out of work done in India during the last five years:
Complete list of publications in standard refereed journals:
Complete list of publications with foreign collaborators (indicating your status as author):
List of papers published in Conferences /Symposia/ Seminars, etc:
List of the most outstanding Technical Reports/ Review Articles:
Statement regarding collaboration with scientists abroad:
Dr. Vaidya has collaborated with groups from across the world with the collaboration either being (a) the acquisition of mutant mouse strains and research materials, or (b) experimental collaborations for specific studies. Her laboratory has also provided experimental and intellectual expertise to other groups. Listed below are specific details for collaborations: Collaborations: (1) Prof. Eric Nestler, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine – Collaboration involved providing HDAC4 virus for surgery experiments. (2) Prof. Steven Kernie, Columbia University- Collaboration involved providing transgenic Nestin-GFP mouse breeders developed in Dr. Kernie’s laboratory for analysis of hippocampal progenitor development. The Nestin-GFP mouse line is not commercially available. (3) Prof. Lisa Monteggia, UT Southwestern, Dallas- Collaboration involved providing mouse brains from conditional BDNF deficient mice developed in Dr. Monteggia’s laboratory that are not commercially available. (4) Prof. Andreas Kottmann, Columbia University- Collaboration involved providing mouse brains from Shh-LacZ reporter mice treated with thyroid hormone. These mice were developed in the Kottmann lab and are not commercially available. (5) Prof. Bjorn Vennstrom, Karolinska Institutet- Collaboration involved providing mouse brains from TRalpha1 knockout, TRalpha2 Knockout, TRAlpha1 dominant negative mice and TRbeta knockout mice generated in Prof. Vennstroms laboratory and not commercially available. (6) Prof Evelyn Lambe, University of Toronto- Collaboration involved Madhurima Benekareddy from Dr. Vaidya’s laboratory travelling to Dr. Lambe’s laboratory and working with Nathalie Goodfellow and Dr. Lambe to perform specific electrophysiological recordings in animals that received early life stress. This collaboration resulted in a joint senior corresponding author paper (Benekareddy et al., 2010). Collaborations also involved members of the Vaidya laboratory providing array and qPCR analysis with reference to muscarinic and 5-HT1a receptor regulation following early stress (Goodfellow et al., 2010; Proulx et al., 2013). (7) Prof. Perry Bartlett, Queensland Brain Institute- Collaboration involved a specific experiment on neurosphere analysis done in Prof. Bartletts’s laboratory for the paper by Yanpallewar et al., 2010. Dr. Vaidya’s laboratory also provided in vivo analysis using Nestin- GFP mice for the Jhaveri et al., 2010 paper from the Bartlett lab. Recently collaboration resulted in a joint first and senior author paper (Jhaveri et al., 2014) which assessed the neurogenic effects of specific noradrenergic receptor in which all the in vivo analysis was carried out in the nominee’s lab and in vitro analysis was performed at Prof. Bartlett’s lab. Collaboration is funded by a DBT, Indo-Queensland award. (8) Prof. Ronald Duman, Yale University- Collaboration involved providing plasmids containing BDNF exon-specific constucts for probe generation for experiments. (9) Dr. Diane Stephenson, Pfizer discovery Centre- Collaboration involved Dr. Vaidya’s laboratory providing experimental and intellectual expertise for adult hippocampal neurogenesis analysis. (10) Dr. David Weinshenker, Emory University- Collaboration involved providing mouse brains from Dopamine-beta-hydroxylase knockout mice. These mice are not commercially available (11) Prof. Lutz Hein, University of Freiburg- Collaboration involved providing mouse brains from Alpha2A-adrenoceptor knockout mice. These mice are not commercially available. (12) Prof. Galila Agam: Collaboration involved a student from Professor Agam’s lab spending 2 months in the nominee’s lab to carry out experiments assessing the effects of lithium on adult hippocampal neurogenesis. This resulted in a manuscript in which nominee is a co-senior corresponding author (Kara et al., 2015).
List of Patents taken
Total number of patents granted in last five years.
Details of Books published:

Contact Details

  • Department of Biological Sciences
    Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
    1, Homi Bhabha Road, Colaba
    Mumbai - 400005
  • 022-22782608
  • 022-22804610
  • vvaidya[at]tifr[dot]res[dot]in
17 Oct 2019, http://ssbprize.gov.in/Content/Detail.aspx?AID=509